Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
April 5 A..D. 2009
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Mark 14:1—15:47 or 15:1-39
A reflection on today's Scripture:
Holy Week begins today.
The waving of palm branches alerts all Christians to a week marked by intense drama. It all starts with a parade. Even today, people get excited and come running at the sound of celebration.
We can imagine a stranger in Jerusalem asking, "What's happening?" A shopkeeper would reply excitedly, "They're going to make this Jesus a King!" King for a day! What a shallow mockery that is repeated with blows and spittle by the soldiers just a few days later! A thorn-crowned king!
On Sunday, Jesus allows the acclamations of His royalty, knowing how fickle their allegiance really is. Now, His heart is really broken as He sees how He has failed to win their loyalty and love. This year, the Gospel of Mark is used for the Passion narrative. The horrors of the Passion are proclaimed and we must, with reluctance, raise our voices with the crowd clamoring "Crucify Him!"
How could events have accelerated at such a dizzying pace between Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday?
The forces of darkness were never more vicious in their attempt to terminate the Mission of Jesus on this earth. That the religious leaders of that time were made instruments of evil is a tragic lesson to all religions, even to the present day.
That these leaders scandalized their own people, making them agents of falsehood, is another warning to those of unwary and careless piety. How easily the righteous can be lulled into blind activity that can do harm! We wonder if any of the many that Jesus healed in His journeys were among those crying out against Him. The Passion narrative is the most powerful story ever written about the sacrifice of the innocent to evil, and the blind consent of crowds to those in power.
Holy Week offers us the opportunity to personally suffer and die with Jesus for the sinfulness of our world -- the sin of the past which seems so remote, and the sin of our present which is all too real and, in our fear, threatens to overwhelm us. We often cannot understand our own behavior. We fail to carry out the things we want to do, and find ourselves doing the things we hate.
It is often a cause for sadness among priests and religious that so few people take part in the Holy Thursday reenactment of the Last Supper. The washing of the feet forces us to feel the humiliation of Peter when Jesus waited on him. When will we allow Jesus to do what He wants with us?
The special attention given on this day to Jesus' truly leaving His body and blood with us until the end of time stirs us to come more frequently to adore Him, really present on our altars every day. Holy Week is a time for us to examine the flaws in the practice of our faith. The only remedy for our weakness is love for the Crucified One.
Along the street called the Via Dolorosa, Jesus, carrying His cross, must have walked over the withered palms! Are we ready to pick up one and take it with us all the way to Calvary?
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
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Sunday, April 5, 2009
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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